Ways to Cope When a Loved One is Addicted
Addiction not only affects every aspect of a person’s life, but it also has a huge impact on the lives of loved ones. Substance abuse is complicated and sometimes can be difficult for family and friends to understand and cope. Addiction interferes with relationships and makes loved ones feel helpless.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) states, “Addiction is more than just compulsive drug taking—it can also produce far-reaching health and social consequences. For example, drug abuse and addiction increase a person’s risk for a variety of other mental and physical illnesses related to a drug-abusing lifestyle or the toxic effects of the drugs themselves.”
A person who suffers from addiction usually limits his or her time around family and friends, which results in long-term absences from family gatherings, holidays, and special events. Addiction is isolating and takes priority over all responsibilities. Guilt, shame, and low self-esteem can make it difficult for your loved one to come around.
Strategies to help you cope
Learn about addiction. Learning that Substance abuse is a complex disease is a good way to start. Addiction makes physical and physiological changes to the brain and affects the way the brain functions. When the brain is dependent on drugs or alcohol, a person will go through uncomfortable withdrawals when not using the substances. This is why your loved one cannot stop using drugs or alcohol.
Go to AA or NA meetings and listen to what others say about their experiences with addiction. Meet people who struggle in similar circumstances. Join a forum online or a group on social media that relates to drug and alcohol addiction. Ask questions and get advice or suggestions from others.
Stay positive and show compassion to your loved one. Encourage your loved one to get help, and offer support and positive affirmation. Understand that many who struggle with addiction also suffer from an underlying mental health condition. Do not use shameful words or a negative tone when talking to your loved one. It could contribute to his or her addictive behavior.
Set boundaries to show your loved one what is off-limits. Doing so will teach him or her to respect your rules and space. Plan expectations in advance and follow through with consequences. According to an article on setting boundaries by Carole Bennett, M.A. for Psychology Today (2011), “Boundaries are scary; they are an emotional line. If there is no follow-through on ramifications, your intentions are quickly dismissed as frivolous, your credibility is shot and your word is like quicksand.”
The importance of communication with your loved one
Keep communication with your loved one open, positive, and encouraging. Try to use non-blaming language and avoid raising your voice or getting angry. If you communicate from a place of compassionate concern, you might get a better response from your loved one. Go to group therapy or family counseling and get advice from professionals who are experienced with drug and alcohol addiction.
Understand you cannot control a person’s behavior. That includes your loved one’s addiction. Family and friends take a direct hit from their loved one’s addictive behavior and suffer a range of emotions from guilt, anger, frustration, and helplessness. This is why family therapy is such a crucial component of addiction treatment and recovery. Family therapy gives family members a voice about the destruction of addiction and allows members to express their feelings.
Healing relationships after addiction
Healing for the family does not end when treatment ends. Ongoing therapy for spouses, parents, and children is a key component of a successful aftercare program. Keeping your family involved in your loved one’s recovery supports long-term success.
Healing relationships after addiction will take some time. Recovery does not happen overnight, and neither does the repair of damaged relationships. Many family and friends, who have a loved one in treatment, expect things to immediately go back to the way things were before the addiction came into their lives. It will take more time than that. Be patient, and let the healing process take its natural course.
A person in recovery will still need help and support in their recovery journey, but they might be hesitant to ask for it on their own. This is because he or she might feel guilty about their destructive behavior. Being there for your loved one, and offering your time and energy to them, even after all the drama of addiction, is one of the best things you can do to heal and repair that relationship.
Getting off drugs and alcohol is a team effort. Family members and supporters who were affected by their loved one’s addiction make the recovery process easier. While many relationships may seem damaged beyond repair, in recovery, everyone’s effort to improve interactions and intentions with their loved one is a very important part of his or her sobriety. Repairing broken relationships can be critical in creating a meaningful and fulfilling life after addiction.
Treatment is available
These are helpful ways to cope when your loved one is battling addiction. Addiction is a family disease and affects not only the individual, but also the lives of loved ones. A person cannot be forced into treatment and recovery, but can be encouraged to get help with love, support, and encouragement.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or addictive behavior, get help today. Do not let the stigma of substance dependence interfere with your opportunity to save a life. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Many people are fighting substance dependence and find success in recovery after treatment. There is no cure for addiction, but there is hope in recovery.
Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, psychological, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.